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Patty Duke (1946–2016)

by Legacy Staff

Actress Patty Duke won an Academy Award as a teenager for “The Miracle Worker” and went on to have a long and successful career.

Patty Duke, the actress who won an Academy Award as a teenager for portraying Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” and went on to enjoy a long and successful career, died Tuesday morning. She was 69.

Mitchell Stubbs, one of Duke’s representatives, confirmed the death.

“Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 a.m.,” Stubbs’ statement reads. “Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed.”


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Duke won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for playing Helen Keller, the first blind-and-deaf person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, on the Broadway stage and later in the 1962 movie “The Miracle Worker.” The film tells the story of how Anne Sullivan, played by Anne Bancroft, taught the young Keller to communicate.

Duke went on to play “identical cousins” on “The Patty Duke Show,” which aired on ABC from 1963 to 1966. The show was created especially for the rising star.

She also acted in films, including playing Neely O’Hara in 1967’s “Valley of the Dolls.”

In 1996, TV Guide magazine ranked Duke No. 40 on its list of the 50 greatest television stars of all time.                                                                                                                                     

Larry King said this about her after her passing, “I admired Patty Duke for her bravery & work on mental health issues. And, what an actress!”

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